Real. Carol Cujec and Peyton Goddard. 2021. [February] 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]
First sentence: My name is Charity. I am thirteen years old plus eighty-seven days. I love sour gummies and pepperoni pizza. That last part no one knows because I have not spoken a sentence since I was born. Each dawning day, I live in terror of my unpredictable body that no one understands.
Premise/plot: Charity Wood, our heroine, is a low-functioning autistic. Many--though not her parents--have written Charity off completely. The "school" she attends would be a joke--but abuse is no laughing matter. But Charity is given a chance, an opportunity to attend public school--to attend regular classes. With the help of an aide and an ipad, Charity may just find her voice after all.
My thoughts: I have high hopes for Real. I do. I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to see it win all the awards. Real has all the feels a reader could possibly want. And perhaps a few that readers don't necessarily want but actually need. I teared up at least three or four times while reading Real. It was just THAT good.
The message is simple EVERYONE deserves a chance to learn. EVERYONE deserves to be treated with respect, kindness, dignity. No one should ever be written off and dismissed. Everyone has value and worth.
I loved the characters. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the parents. I loved Celia and Ana--two teachers/aides that believed in Charity from the start. I loved the realness of the relationships.
I loved the writing and the story. It was beautiful and wonderful.
"Steve, Charity has something to tell you." He took in the scene, and focused on the keyboard in our lap. Mom pressed a button, and it played my prepared message. DAD, YOU ARE MY BEST FRIEND. THANK YOU FOR BELIEVING IN ME. He looked confused. Then Mom held my right elbow as I typed the final line. I LOVE YOU. (133)
In class next day, Jazmine, Peter, Julian, Skyler and the other EPIC kids crowded around to "hear" me talk with Ana supporting me. Ana read my message to the group. THANK YOU FOR ACCEPTING ME EVEN BEFORE I HAD WORDS. (134)
Real is inspired by a real person--Peyton Goddard.
Is Real a novel that children would seek out on their own? Maybe. Maybe not. Might it be the kind of book that adults love more than kids? Maybe. All I can say is that even if kids miss out on the awesomeness of this book--which I sincerely hope they do not--it should be a MUST READ for teachers, school staff, and administration.
© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews